Mark Malone threw three touchdown passes as the Pittsburgh Steelers routed Atlanta, 35-10, today.
Malone, in his second start at quarterback in three years, threw scoring passes of 20 and 31 yards to John Stallworth and seven yards to Rich Erenberg. Frank Pollard ran for 111 yards and scored the Steelers' other touchdown.
Malone was intercepted on the game's first play from scrimmage, but Atlanta running back Gerald Riggs immediately returned the favor. He fumbled on the Falcons' first play when he was tackled by Gary Dunn and Robin Cole. Dwayne Woodruff scooped up the ball at the Steelers' 35, sidestepped quarterback Steve Bartkowski near midfield and hit the end zone untouched to give the Steelers (5-4) a 7-0 lead 33 seconds into the game.
"It was a crazy start," Malone said. "Thank God we had a super defense that kept us in the game. Once we got rolling, things went prety well."
The Steelers' defense forced three turnovers and contained Bartkowski, who completed 19 of 23 passes for 167 yards.
The loss was the third in a row for the Falcons (3-6), who scored on a 40-yard field goal by Mick Luckhurst on the last play of the first half and a nine-yard touchdown pass from Mike Moroski to Stacey Bailey on the last play of the game.
Malone, who completed 11 of 21 passes for 162 yards in replacing injured David Woodley, hit rookie tight end Darrell Nelson for 19 yards two plays before his first touchdown pass to Stallworth, a 20-yarder with 2:24 left in the first half.
The Steelers drove 78 yards on 14 plays following an interception by Woodruff early in the second half. Pollard ended the drive with a five-yard scoring run with 6:07 left in the third period.
Malone made it 28-3 late in the third quarter with his second touchdown pass to Stallworth and then was replaced by rookie Scott Campbell after throwing to Erenberg for the Steelers' final score midway through the fourth quarter.